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Silverton Splitfest

Good turns, new friends, big mountains

Welcome to the Silverton Splitfest

Every spring, bands of snowboarders converge on a tiny Rocky Mountain town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to explore the backcountry opportunities that abound. But they’re not your typical snowboarders: They’re splitboarders.

This genre of snowboarding relies on boards that can be used as skis to climb mountains. Once on top, they surf down, and often head right back up.

It’s less about style and more about passion. A self-guided exploration of the surrounding mountains, the fest reconvenes every night for lectures, classes, food and fun. Campers and tents line the grounds of the community center, the haphazard festival headquarters. Clothes hang out to dry. Boards and gear lean on cars and trucks. Naps are taken in the sun. Flash picnics breakout and disappear. And the mountains shroud it all.

It’s grown so much that splitboard equipment manufacturers have taken notice.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get out on the gear,” said Lisa Branner, co-founder of Venture Snowboards and host of the event over four days in April. “Test out some different models and some different sizes from a variety of different manufacturers to find what works for them, and it just builds a lot of stoke.”

Venture Snowboards calls Silverton home, and for good reason: the oceans of mountains and bottomless snows surrounding the town. Still, they reach out to splitboarding brands all over the Rockies.

“It’s a cool group of people that love being in the outdoors,” said Adam Browning of Oz Snowboards.

And it’s just as much about the snow as it is sharing the love of enjoying the mountains.

“The whole idea is to come together as a community,” Branner said. “Learn about backcountry safety, sharpen our skills as far as backcountry touring and awareness and, of course, just celebrate out in nature.

Splitfest takes place in mid-April when avalanche conditions stabilize.

For more information visit venturesnowboards.com

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